DETROIT - DaimlerChrysler AG is going for pure power in its new Performance Vehicle Operations.
But while company executives brag about thundering horsepower, it is composites that will make the new line of vehicles possible.
``Plastics people should be happy with what we're coming out with,'' Saad Abouzahr, senior manager for Chrysler's PVO program, said during the Jan. 8 launch of the Dodge SRT-10 high-powered truck at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
``We really have some unique composite materials on these vehicles. Things we can't even talk about yet,'' Abouzahr said.
The Dodge Viper, in production since 1996, is the first official member of the PVO unit, which also will take in the firm's motor sports and high-performance parts units in addition to specialty vehicles.
The Viper makes extensive use of reaction injection molding to make its body panels. Concepts introduced in Detroit build on the Viper engine and add new styling concepts. The SRT-10 truck builds on the Dodge Ram pickup as a performance vehicle and gives it a composite hood, cowl module and tonneau cover.
A Viper SRT-4 convertible concept, meanwhile, has a hood with a series of cooling vents, produced through polymer technology.
``You couldn't do that without composites,'' Abouzahr said. ``There is no way to do this with sheet metal, even if you wanted to.''
The bulk of buyers and auto aficionados who buy into the PVO lineup will not know what lurks under the paint, he said. What is important is creating something that will grab their attention and dollars, not overwhelm them with chemistry.
``The issue isn't just using plastics,'' Abouzahr said. ``Whatever technology we use has to be invisible to the consumer.''